"What, then, is time? If no one asks me, I know; if I want to explain it to the questioner, I do not know."

Eva Brann on the problem of Book XI of Augustine's Confessions:

"My own concern with time started from two ends at once, intellectual puzzlement and deep-felt irritation, and it developed, as really good questions do, from annoyed fascination to serious interest. The intellectual puzzlement was just that expressed by Augustine: What sort of a being, if it was a being, could be so handily familiar in daily usage and so fugitive to the grasp of thought? Here I did as all my fellow humans do: I make time, kill time, manage my time, waste time. To be sure, I’ve never “done” time, though but for the grace of God I might have. I know that time heals all wounds and ravages all the beauties of the world. But if I ask myself what it is that does this, I see and touch nothing and think of less. That is at first just a puzzling and then an engaging state of affairs."

The greatness of Eva Brann

From the Washington Free Beacon: Had the Athenians lost at Salamis, Herodotus’ Histories would never have come to be, not to mention the entire subsequent literary tradition of Athens, or, indeed, America itself, which is a consequence of that tradition. As Brann puts it:

If the Greeks had lost here…[w]hat great and wonderful works would then have come to be in Europe and its America? Probably not these: science and democracy. For the Persian bequest to Europe, the one that would have aborted the Greek legacy we actually live off, would have been the religion, not the science, of nature, and the institution of despotism, not of freedom.

Eva Brann on time

My own concern with time started from two ends at once, intellectual puzzlement and deep-felt irritation, and it developed, as really good questions do, from annoyed fascination to serious interest. The intellectual puzzlement was just that expressed by Augustine: What sort of a being, if it was a being, could be so handily familiar in daily usage and so fugitive to the grasp of thought? Here I did as all my fellow humans do: I make time, kill time, manage my time, waste time. To be sure, I’ve never “done” time, though but for the grace of God I might have. I know that time heals all wounds and ravages all the beauties of the world. But if I ask myself what it is that does this, I see and touch nothing and think of less. That is at first just a puzzling and then an engaging state of affairs.